Katsura Tree in Autumn - Colour, Light & Other Good Things

This post is my contribution to Gayla's “Seven things (plus some extra fun things at the end)” meme.

Katusura tree on Thanksgiving

Katsura Tree, Thanksgiving 2007

Seven reasons why the Katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) is my favourite tree* in autumn:

1) Leaf colours -- Not only does the foliage change gradually from green to pale yellow to apricot throughout October but on a on mid-autumn day, a single leaf can be variegated with all these hues plus tinged with a rose-to-plum blush.

Katsura Leaves & Raindrops

Katusura tree in October

Rosy blush on yellow Katsura leaves


2) Sunlight filtered through translucent leaves -- Prettiest in the morning, especially after a rain shower in late September and viewed from the under-side.

Sun after rain, the light at the end of September


3) Orange hearts fluttering against a blue sky -- Blue and orange is my favourite, complementary colour scheme. It boosts my energy and my spirits.

Orange on deep blue


4) A golden glow -- I captured this image last year in late October on a rare, sunny day. Today, on this more typical West Coast rainy, gray fall day, I'm wondering if I can use it for phototherapy.

Autumn Katsura

5) Foliage and habit -- Though they aren't just autumn features, at this time of year I especially notice the heart-shaped leaves, the gracefully arching limbs, and the elegant shape katsura maintains from youth to maturity.

Autumn Katsura

As one source writes:

Katsura Tree in Autumn

The leaves of katsura tree are its main delight, hanging languidly from branches and fluttering as easily as poplar leaves in the slightest breeze....
Softly arching branching creates a pyramidal habit in youth, which generally matures to a more widely spreading crown with age (Source: The Year in Trees: Superb Woody Plants for Four-Season Gardens)


6) Tradition  -- Every Thanksgiving, I photograph the tree in my Mom's yard. The photo below is from this year; the one at the beginning of this post is from 2007.

Thanksgiving tree

Douglas Justice's poetic description, which I found last night in a Google Search for botanical information, is as brilliant as the katsura this past Thanksgiving Sunday:

When the fates conspire and the colours emerge, katsuras are like fireballs: all saturated red, pink, orange and blackening maroon, like a simmering furnace of molten metals and slag.

7) Tend the Earth, Mend the Spirit, Stretch & Strengthen the Body -- A favourite book's title and missing Pilates classes during my vacation inspired this reason. Perhaps if I had to rake leaves from more than one medium-sized katsura I wouldn't find "tending" consistently pleasant, let alone therapeutic, but I truly enjoyed the daily leaf-raking ritual while I was visiting my mom for two weeks. It was good for my mind and spirit as I practiced being in the present moment (inhale/rake, exhale/rake, focus on the task at hand, "all will be well"). It was good for my body, as I applied (correctly, I hope) various Pilates' principles to bending, stretching and lifting.

Piper Thanksgiving 2007


(* I need to qualify this as "my favourite too-big-for-the-balcony tree." My favourite balcony-suitable tree is the Japanese maple Acer palmatum 'Inaba Shidare'. This fall, though, I've spent more time with katsura -- by necessity rather than choice -- a tree that's been a joy and comfort during some difficult days.)